#20BooksofSummer 2017

Not usually one who joins in with memes and the like I spotted this one devised by Cathy at 746Books and took part last year. You can see how I got on here.

Cathy is hoping to read 20 books between 1 June and 3 September, meaning she has the mammoth task of reading about 7 books a month. You can read about the challenge on Cathy’s excellent blog here.

I think I’m doomed to failure before I start but I need to make a dent in the TBR and this challenge gives me the push I need. I’ve selected 15 books and I’m allowing myself 5 wildcards so that I can chose my read as my fickle taste dictates. I’m not sure if this is allowed but I’ve learnt that I need to have flexibility in what I’m reading; I need to be able to go where my reading taste takes me, otherwise I find I resent the book I’m trying to plough through. I’ve aimed for a mix of genres, length and topic in my choices. Some are books I’ve agreed to review or are future releases, others simply because they caught my eye when I was scanning the TBR. The trouble is, when I was scanning the TBR I found loads I wanted to read straight away.

I’ll be reviewing all of the books I manage to read and I’ll be using the 20 books of Summer logo picture on each one. I’ll also link back to my reviews on here so I can keep track of how many I have read.

Here’s what I’ve picked (I’ll add the wildcard reads as I pick them)…

1 Tin Man by Sarah Winman

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God Was A Rabbit and A Year Of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.

Read my review here.

2 The Faithful by Juliet West swopped for Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

A beautiful heiress is fatally poisoned in a West End restaurant…

Six people sit down to dinner at a table laid for seven. In front of the empty place is a sprig of rosemary in solemn memory of Rosemary Barton who died at the same table exactly one year previously. No one present on that fateful night would ever forget the woman’s face, contorted beyond recognition or what they remembered about her astonishing life.

Read my review here.

3 Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy swopped for You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.

You, Me, Everything is a heartfelt and unforgettable story about the lengths we are prepared to go to for those we love.

This is a story that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

You, Me, Everything is not out until April 2018 so my review will be up closer to publication. This was book 13 of my challenge.

4 A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

Emily is happy with her life just as it is.

She has a career as a midwife that she loves . She enjoys living on her own as a single woman. But she’s also feels it’s time for a change and a spot of some sea air.

So when her best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a ‘puffer’ boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance.

But she barely has time to get to grips with the galley before she finds herself with a lot on her plate.

Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend on board doing most of the work. Then there’s Emily’s competitive and jealous kitchen assistant who thinks she should be head-cook, not Emily.

And there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily is desperately trying not to notice.

Because if she falls in love with him, as he appears to be falling for her, will she ever want her old life back again?
Read more on the Penguin website.

Read my review here.

5 The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent swopped for Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

With a specially commissioned Introduction and Notes by Kathryn White, Assistant Curator / Librarian of the Brontë Museum, Haworth, Yorkshire.

This novel is a trenchant expose of the frequently isolated, intellectually stagnant and emotionally-starved conditions under which many governesses worked in the mid-19th century.

This is a deeply personal novel written from the author’s own experience and as such Agnes Grey has a power and poignancy which mark it out as a landmark work of literature dealing with the social and moral evolution of English society during the last century.

6 Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed swopped for Innocence by Roald Dahl

There’s a whole world of Dahl still to discover in a newly collected book of his deliciously dark tales for adults . . .

What makes us innocent and how do we come to lose it? Featuring the autobiographical stories telling of Roald Dahl’s boyhood and youth as well as four further tales of innocence betrayed, Dahl touches on the joys and horrors of growing up.

Among other stories, you’ll read about the wager that destroys a girl’s faith in her father, the landlady who has plans for her unsuspecting young guest and the commuter who is horrified to discover that a fellow passenger once bullied him at school.

Featuring extraordinary cover art by Charming Baker, whose paintings echo the dark and twisted world of Dahl’s short stories.

Read more on the Penguin website.

Read my review here.

7 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.

Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel.

Read my review here.

8 An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

Read my review here.

9 The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

An irresistible mystery set in 1890s Edinburgh, Kaite Welsh’s THE WAGES OF SIN features a female medical student-turned-detective, and will thrill fans of Sarah Waters and Antonia Hodgson.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled from London to Edinburgh in disgrace and is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. As part of the University of Edinburgh’s first intake of female medical students, Sarah comes up against resistance from lecturers, her male contemporaries, and – perhaps worst of all – her fellow women, who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman…

When one of Sarah’s patients turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into Edinburgh’s dangerous underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers – and a confrontation with her own past.

Read my review here.

10 The Last Summer by Ricarda Huch

A psychological thriller by the pioneering German writer Ricarda Huch. A novel of letters from the last century – but one with an astonishingly modern feel. Now for the first time in English.

Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. To counter student unrest, the governor of St Petersburg closes the state university. Soon afterwards he arrives at his summer residence with his family and receives a death threat. His worried wife employs a young bodyguard, Lju, to protect her husband. Little does she know that Lju sides with the students – and the students are plotting an assassination.

Read my review here.

11 American Housewife by Helen Ellis

Meet the women of American Housewife…
They smoke their eyes and paint their lips. They channel Beyoncé while doing household chores. They drown their sorrows with Chanel No. 5 and host book clubs where chardonnay trumps Charles Dickens. They redecorate. And they are quietly capable of kidnapping, breaking and entering, and murder.
These women know the rules of a well-lived life: replace your tights every winter, listen to erotic audio books while you scrub the bathroom floor, serve what you want to eat at your dinner parties, and accept it: you’re too old to have more than one drink and sleep through the night.
Vicious, fresh and darkly hilarious, American Housewife is a collection of stories for anyone who has ever wondered what really goes on behind the façades of the housewives of America…

Read my review here.

12 Kill the Next One by Federico Axat swopped for The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan

A gorgeous, warm and joyful story from bestselling author Jenny Colgan, author of LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY, WELCOME TO ROSIE HOPKINS’ SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS and MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE

Nina is a librarian who spends her days happily matchmaking books and people – she always knows what someone should read next. But when her beloved library closes and she’s suddenly out of a job, Nina has no idea what to do next. Then an advert catches her eye: she could be the owner of a tiny little bookshop bus, driving around the Scottish highlands.

Using up all her courage, and her savings, Nina makes a new start in the beautiful Scottish highlands. But real life is a bit trickier than the stories she loves – especially when she keeps having to be rescued by the grumpy-but-gorgeous farmer next door…

Read my review here.

13 This Family of Things by Alison Jameson swopped for The Language of Coats by Deirdre Hines

Deirdre Hines’ first collection of poetry includes the six poems that won her the Listowel Poetry Collection competition prize in 2011 alongside over two dozen new poems.

Her poems address our times in metrically precise poetry that weaves images of luminosity using many different characters. They take the reader on journeys that traverse untrodden terrains.

The Language of Coats is a pleasure to read, all the more so because of the time and craft the poet has applied in bringing it to fruition.

Read my review here.

14 Siren by Annemarie Neary

Ireland, 2004

Róisín Burns has spent over twenty-five years living a lie.

Brian Lonergan, a rising politician, has used the time to reinvent himself.

But scandal is brewing around him, and Róisín knows the truth.

Lonergan stole her life as a young girl. And now she wants it back.

But he is still one step ahead …
Read more on the Penguin website.

Read my review here.

15 Significance by Jo Mazelis swopped for Death of a Nobody by Derek Farrell


“Danny Bird is back and he’s gone full Poirot.”

When Lady Margaret Wright dies her will stipulates her wake be held in her old neighbourhood. Sensing an opportunity, Danny, Lady Caroline and the gang commit to giving the old girl the wake to end all wakes and at the same time cement the reputation of The Marquis Of Queensbury as South London’s most up and coming gastro-pub.

As usual though things don’t quite go to plan and it isn’t long before the body count starts to mount. Danny and the unflappable Lady Caroline find themselves thrown into a classic murder mystery complete with poison pen letters, family feuds, money, jealousy and a cast of characters that would put the average Agatha Christie country house mystery to shame. 

With his love-life and his business seemingly falling around his ears Danny is determined to get to the bottom of things and hopefully put a stop to people getting murdered in his damn pub.

Read my review here.

Wildcard reads

16. The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he’d always wanted to read. Books he’d said he’d read, when he hadn’t. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the 6.44 to London. And so, with the turn of a page, began a year of reading that was to transform Andy’s life completely.

This book is Andy’s inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult and everything in-between. Crack the spine of your unread ‘Middlemarch’, discover what ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ have in common (everything, surprisingly) and knock yourself out with a new-found enthusiasm for Tolstoy, Douglas Adams and ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’. ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’ is a reader’s odyssey and it begins with opening this book…

Read my review here.

17. Before Everything by Victoria Redel

“Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.

Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.

But now, Anna – fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends’ glue – is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.

As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.

Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.

End of sixth grade they made it their official name. It was a joke one afternoon but they liked the way it sounded. Permanent. The Old Friends. This way, the five girls agree, it’s just a fact. And ours forever.”

Read my review here.

18. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen

‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs – not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in – the woman Hendrik has always longed for – he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

The indomitable Hendrik Groen – Holland’s unlikeliest hero – has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

Read my review here.

19. Death in the Tunnel  by Miles Burton.

On a dark November evening, Sir Wilfred Saxonby is travelling alone in the 5 o’clock train from Cannon Street, in a locked compartment. The train slows and stops inside a tunnel; and by the time it emerges again minutes later, Sir Wilfred has been shot dead, his heart pierced by a single bullet.

Suicide seems to be the answer, even though no motive can be found. Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard thinks again when he learns that a mysterious red light in the tunnel caused the train to slow down. Finding himself stumped by the puzzle, Arnold consults his friend Desmond Merrion, a wealthy amateur expert in criminology. Merrion quickly comes up with an ‘essential brainwave’ and helps to establish how Sir Wilfred met his end, but although it seems that the dead man fell victim to a complex conspiracy, the investigators are puzzled about the conspirators’ motives, as well as their identities. Can there be a connection with Sir Wilfred’s seemingly untroubled family life, his highly successful business, or his high-handed and unforgiving personality? And what is the significance of the wallet found on the corpse, and the bank notes that it contained?

Read my review here.

20. Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson

‘See Naples and die’, said Goethe. But Katherine Wilson saw Naples and started to live.

Katherine is fresh out of college when she arrives in Naples to intern at the US Consulate. There she meets handsome, studious Salvatore, and finds herself enveloped by his family – in particular by his elegant mother, Raffaella, who begins her real education: never eat the crust of a pizza first, always stand up and fight for yourself and your loved ones, and remember that mealtimes are sacred.

Immersed in Neapolitan culture, tradition and cooking, slowly and unexpectedly falling for Salvatore, and basking in Raffaella’s company and guidance, Katherine discovers how to prepare meals that sing, from rich ragù to pasta al forno, with bacon, béchamel and four kinds of cheese. Through courtship, culture clashes, Sunday Mass, marriage and motherhood, Katherine slowly comes to appreciate carnale, the quintessentially Neapolitan sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own skin.

Steeped in sunlight, wine and unforgettable food, Only in Naples is a love letter to a city and a family, a coming-of-age story, and a transporting account of learning to live the Italian way.

Read my review here.

I also have three novels and one set of short stories that I have part read, so I’ll be finishing those as well.

What do you have planned on your summer TBR list? Do let me know if you are planning on joining in on #20BooksofSummer, even if you aren’t going to blog about it. And let me know which books you choose, simply because I’m nosy!

42 Comments Add yours

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Very difficult to balance planning with whim, I find. I won’t attempt it this year, although I did pretty well last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I failed completely last year. I think I did about 12 and that was with 10 wildcards. Let see how I get on this year!


  2. Such a varied list, Janet! I can vouch for Siren and Significance, both great reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Susan. Hopefully I’ll be able to get through them all. Some I’ve had waiting to read for a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure I could stand the pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I put enough pressure on myself with the amount of outstanding books I have to read. I figure this way I might actual get some read at the same time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the feeling. I have been sent over 900 unsolicited copies and can never get through them all!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. janetemson says:

        Ah but you can have fun trying 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Quiet Knitter says:

    A Fantastic selection Janet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks, Kate. The difficulty was narrowing them down. Every time I came across a book I felt I had to read it straight away 🙂


  5. Sarah Swan says:

    Great choices! Good luck with your challenge x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I’m sure I’m doomed to fail but I’ll give it a go 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sarah Swan says:

        It’s worth a try 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you’re taking part again! Wildcard choices are a great idea, you know how flexible my rules are. Siren is an enjoyable read. I’ve seen Gather The Daughters on a few peoples lists and now I want to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I’m hoping it will kick start the reading again and so far it has, I’m 2 1/2 books down. Though I have read the shortest books first so I may run out of steam before the end of the three months. Hopefully someone will buy you Gather the Daughters then it doesn’t count towards the 746 🙂


  7. Brona says:

    I didn’t realise that Maile Meloy wrote adult fiction as well. Her junior fiction trilogy was great – you’ve got me intrigued now!

    Good luck with your #20books

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks! I’ve not read any of her junior fiction. I may have to after I’ve read Do Not Become Alarmed just so I can compare. I like your list of titles you’ve chosen. I’ve not read any of them but it looks like a great mix. Good luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Colletta says:

    I’m aiming to get 10 read! I’m fickle, also, so my list is very loose 🙂



    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I like the look of your list. I’ve not read any. I hope you enjoy them 🙂


  9. Peggy says:

    Lovely list! The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent is really calling to me! Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is delightful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I’ve heard good things about both so thought this challenge was the perfect excuse to read them 🙂


  10. I’ve made a note of these Janet. All unknown titles to me.
    I failed miserably last year, mind you was in the middle of a house sale/move.
    Good luck with the challenge Janet.
    Will look forward to reading your reviews and see how you’re getting on.
    I might try a ten book one this year.

    Caryl x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Caryl. I think a ten book challenge would be good. To be honest I choose some short stories and novellas as a way of getting ahead. I think my pace will slow down as I start on the longer books!

      Good luck with yours, I’ll be interested to see your list of chosen books 🙂 x


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